Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Playing with colored chalk.
I always loved the scene in Mary Poppins when Bert, Mary and the children jump into the chalk drawings on the sidewalk and emerge into a beautiful countryside. I wondered how Bert was able to draw like that with chalk. The only chalk I knew was used on blackboards by nuns in black habits. One day, I was with my mother in the hardware store. While she was hunting down nuts and bolts, I was sitting, staring with fascination at a box of colored chalk. She bought me the box of NuPastels even though all I did with them was open the box and drink in the colors.
Wherever I went, they went with me to different states, high schools, college and eventually to my own apartment and home. Some 30 years later, I started using them to draw. I loved smudging and smushing them with my fingers like a kindergartner with finger paints. I made a few drawings and then, I stopped. I put away my pastels, by color in separate zip lock bags and stored them away. And I put my creativity into clay, copper, screening and paint. I didn't think I missed it.
One day, I interviewed Kitty Wallis, a well-known pastel artist, and mentioned that I used to love drawing with pastels. But I'd never successfully been able to layer paint and pastel, the papers I had just wouldn't take it. She got up, went over to her big drawers of paper and gave me a piece of her famous Wallis Sanded Pastel Paper. She said I could paint the surface and still have enough tooth for lots of layers of pastel colors.
It took me 2 years to get up the nerve to use the beautiful paper Kitty so generously gave me. But Kitty was right. This paper can take it and then some. I had a great time playing with it. It took several layers of acrylic paint. Then I drew and drew and drew with pastels.
Some days the clouds at the top of the drawing got darker and thicker. Other days, I'd start drawing and somehow the sky would be blue and the clouds would be gone. Then they'd reappear and disappear again. Finally to come out light, white and bright. Just like life, right?
Thanks, Kitty for helping me rediscover drawing with chalk. It's just too bad I can't put it on the floor, and like Mary Poppins, jump right in.